After stepping down as the Bengal head coach, Arun Lal looked back at his stint with pride and rated the state team as one of the top five sides in the country.
Lal, who served as a mentor in the 2018-19 season before taking over as the head coach the following season, guided Bengal to the Ranji Trophy final (against Saurashtra) after 13 years in 2019-2020 and to the semifinals (where it lost to eventual champion Madhya Pradesh) in 2021-22. (Ranji Trophy was not held in 2020-21 due to the pandemic.)
Lal said he would miss the Bengal players. “It was a painful and tough decision. I thought about it a lot. Nine months in a year you are totally occupied 24x7…I am just tired. It’s a tough job, domestic coaching is very tough because the teams are so evenly matched all across the board” Lal told The Hindu on Wednesday.
Someone who donned the India colours and was part of the 1989-90 Ranji Trophy winning Bengal side, Lal showered praise on the current players.
“I am so happy. The guys have shown great commitment, work ethics and the desire and have performed very well.
“If we look at the domestic circuit, out of last year’s (2019-20) four semifinalists only one team qualified for the semifinals and that was Bengal. Even the previous season’s winner (Saurashtra) did not qualify. The two teams that played this year’s final (Madhya Pradesh and Mumbai) did not qualify the year before.
“Even though we don’t have a trophy, Bengal is in the top five in every format. We have played some phenomenal white ball cricket. Most of the job is done. When they win a trophy, I will celebrate with them.”
Lal hoped that Bengal would perform even better in the coming days. “We can carry on from here. We have some good youngsters coming up in the white ball format. Unfortunately, we are not getting too many in the red ball format. But in the red ball format the whole country is struggling, including the Indian team,” said Lal.